ICLS Annual Luncheon highlights our staff

The past year has been difficult through the pandemic, as our staff faced the challenges of remote work while continuing to provide clients the highest quality legal aid. They did so with grace, courage, and strength, proving their dedication to the residents in Riverside and San Bernardino who needed legal help.

We couldn’t be more proud of the impact our staff has made on their clients’ lives.

It was with great joy that we finally were able to come together again in person, to celebrate this year’s accomplishments, commemorate a few of our dedicated employees and begin moving ahead into a better and brighter 2022.

Darrell Moore, our Executive Director, said, “The most exciting thing we have to look forward to in 2022 is taking care of our collective selves, learning who we are, learning how to be better, and creating a work environment that truly provides a sense of belonging for everyone.”

Our staff made some incredible strides toward those goals in 2021, doing everything they could to help their clients.

Some of those staff were given Excellence in Advocacy Awards. This recognition went to those who went above and beyond to give their clients an advocate who creates a safe space for their legal issues to be resolved.  These individuals are hard working, dedicated, and will continue to provide outstanding advocacy in all they do. The awardees are the following: Shameka Womack, Isabelle Espinoza-Montes, Stacey Bobadilla, and Iris Vasquez.

Below, you'll find quotes from our organization's leaders about the impact these incredible people have at ICLS.

“You go above and beyond for all of your clients. Taking those after hour calls, assuaging their concerns about upcoming hearings, and checking in with a client after their hearings for further questions.” - Cara Whisler on behalf of Shameka Womack for the Excellence in Advocacy Award

“Isabelle has resumed providing outreach at our senior centers during this pandemic and is willing to meet with any senior in person at our office. Her quality of work produced is outstanding. Isabelle is passionate and compassionate, determined and soft hearted. Thank you for your commitment and service where it mattered.” - Mischa Kennedy on behalf of Isabelle Espinoza-Montes for the Excellence in Advocacy Award

“She does amazing keeping up with her cases and usually she is very accurate with almost no compliance mistakes. She produces high quality work and even though she’s very busy, she is able to maintain a high level caseload.” - Maria Cazarez-Reyes on behalf of Stacey Bobadilla for the Excellence in Advocacy Award

“Iris is always eager to take on a new case and does not shy away from the difficult cases. Iris has been with ICLS less than a year and has already caused a great impact on the lives of our clients.” - Elena Castillo on behalf of Iris Vasquez for the Excellence in Advocacy Award

Next, we recognized the awardees of our Superior Support Awards. This award is given to those at ICLS in supporting roles that are necessary for our nonprofit to function. These individuals not only provide support in administrative duties, but assist in every facet of their teams to ensure all clients receive the best service at our organization. The awardees are the following: Melinda Escobar, Claudia Velasquez, and Lisa Simmons.

Below, you'll find more quotes about these incredible employees.

“The best, hardest working paralegal in the whole program.” - Greg Armstrong on behalf of Melinda Escobar for the Superior Support Award  

“She has always maintained a professional but friendly demeanor with our applicants and clients that contributes to our success in our cases. Her notetaking is without reproach… We couldn’t do it without you.” - Greg Armstrong on behalf of Claudia Velasquez for the Superior Support Award

“Your efforts reflect your connection to the clients and the mission of ICLS. You have always gone the extra mile on many occasions.” - Cara Whisler on behalf of Lisa Simmons for the Superior Support Award

Lastly, we had the Years of Service Awards. This award is given to those at ICLS who have been serving our communities for extensive periods of time. These staff members have been committed to our mission ranging from five to fifteen years and have become integral parts of our organization. The awardees are the following: Nicolas Villa (5 years), Warren Snider (5 years), Tori Praul Hedrick (10 years), Tessie Solorzano (10 years), Elena Castillo (10 years), Angelita Gonzalez (10 years), Stephanie Serrano (15 years), Sang Banh (15 years), and Josefina Pineda (15 years).

Below, you'll see what our ICLS leaders had to say about these dedicated team members.

“He is meticulous. He is very concerned about procedure and concerned about analyzing a case to make sure we are covering all of our bases and trying to think about the kind of response the other side is going to give. He is a really good example of an excellent advocate and excellent attorney.” - Greg Armstrong on behalf of Nicolas Villa for the Years of Service Award

“When I started with ICLS, and I first met Warren, it felt like he had been here for ages. He knows this program, he is so dedicated to this program. He is so humble.” - Grant Jahner on behalf of Warren Snider for the Years of Service Award

“Tori has always had a realistic, good attitude about the challenges in front of us… Tori has always been resilient in her attitude in working towards a solution to our challenges. What more could you ask for?” - Darrell Moore on behalf of Tori Praul Hedrick for the Years of Service Award

“The work that she has done in putting together the bureaucratic organization, rebuilding it, retooling it, reimagining it, has been absolutely phenomenal.” - Darrell Moore on behalf of Tessie Solorzano for the Years of Service Award

“She is meticulous in her job. She has this wonderful ability to analyze a case, look at it from all angles and provide solutions for our clients… It is just such a pleasure to work with someone like Elena.” - Sang Banh on behalf of Elena Castillo for the Years of Service Award

“She is truly an angel. I remember hearing lots of clients saying you are an angel and their response when she tells them that’s her name… She is very patient, soft spoken, and able to de-escalate any situation with a client immediately.” - Maria Cazarez-Reyes on behalf of Angelita Gonzalez for the Years of Service Award 

“A short acknowledgement goes out to Stephanie Serrano for 15 years, wow.” - Darrell Moore on behalf of Stephanie Serrano for the Years of Service Award 

“The one thing I can say about Sang is that I truly believe it’s an incredible collaborative partnership… She is always bringing a challenging conversation and is very kind in bringing me into those conversations. ” - Darrell Moore on behalf of Sang Banh for the Years of Service Award

“The wonderful thing about working with Josefina is that you never have to worry about her… Whatever assignment I give her, she will make sure she gets it done and does it well.” - Jaime Cartagena on behalf of Josefina Pineda for the Years of Service Award 


A special thank you goes out to the following employees who put our incredible event together: Tessie Solorzano, Stephanie Serrano, Lisa Godoy, and Carmen Brunner!

Posted: December 27, 2021